The Business Matrix: Monday 17 October 2011

BSkyB

BSkyB will be hoping a strong set of first-quarter results on Wednesday will draw attention away from the controversy surrounding the satellite broadcaster’s chairman, James Murdoch, who is also deputy COO at News Corp. Numis expects profits to be up 14 per cent to about £290m, but net customer additions to have more than halved compared with last year, amid the consumers spending squeeze.

Debenhams

Debenhams should show profit growth on Thursday after a summer of discounts and promotions helped boost its market share. The group, which has 169 department stores in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, managed to turn around falling revenues over the summer after it brought its sale forward by five days. The group last month forecast higher-than-expected profits – a rare move in the retail sector.

Whitbread

The leisure giant Whitbread is expected to unveil strong, half-yearly profits of between £151m and £163m on Tuesday, driven by the performance of its Costa coffee chain. Costa’s aggressive expansion has seen 145 new stores open in the first half and another 155 planned for the rest of the financial year. Elsewhere, Whitbread’s chain of budget hotels, Premier Inn, is set to post 5 per cent underlying growth.

Home Retail Group

Argos, the 750-store catalogue chain, is expected to have made just £1m in six months after sales tumbled nearly 8 per cent. Its owner, Home Retail Group, is forecast to report a huge 70 per cent plunge in half-yearly profits to £30m on Wednesday. Sales at its garden and homewares chain, Homebase, are also under pressure as cash-strapped customers shy away from purchases such as fitted kitchens.

Dividends jump to more than £20bn

The level of UK dividends rose above £20bn between July and September, according to new figures from Capita Registrars. Third-quarter payouts were up nearly 16 per cent in year-on-year terms. At more than £20.9bn, the level of payouts by companies in the three-month period was the highest since the second quarter of 2008.

Krispy Kreme gets PE investment

The private equity firm Alcuin Capital Partners has backed a management buyout at the doughnut retailer Krispy Kreme UK. The deal, which is valued at £25m, will support the company’s plans to take the number of its UK sites to 80 by 2015. The retailer, which entered the UK market in 2003, currently has 45 stores across the country.

Growing divide in house prices

Average property prices in the south of the UK are more than twice as much as those in the north, according to figures from the property website Rightmove. Average prices in the north stand at £164,347, against £336,743. That compares with a national average of £239,672 this month, up from £233,139 last month.

Real incomes fall as basic costs rise

Rising costs and falling incomes continued to put a squeeze on consumers last month, according to Lloyds TSB. The bank said incomes in real terms were 1 per cent lower in September than a year ago, while spending on essential items had risen by 3.5 per cent. The highest growth was in gas and electricity spending.

High taxes hit air passenger levels

More than half of the airlines operating in the UK expect fewer people to fly next year because of higher taxes, according to new figures. Researchers at the lobby group A Fair Tax on Flying Alliance found that 55 per cent of airlines expected passenger numbers to reduce next year, by an average of 5 per cent.

Level of business jet flights rises

The number of daily business aircraft flights in the UK rose by 7 per cent between January and June, according to research from the business jet manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft. There were 390 more daily business flights in the UK over the period, accounting for more than 22 per cent of the total for the EU.